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August 4, 2007

Rory Sabbatini


LAURA NEAL: Thanks for joining us. 2-over today, but considering the conditions and the rest of the field, you've got to feel pretty good about where you are.
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously didn't quite get off to the start I wanted today and got myself behind the 8 ball pretty early on. It was just a grind from there on out. Obviously very happy with the way I played, very happy with the way I finished. Obviously I had a couple good opportunities on the back nine to make some birdies and just didn't get it done. But that's the way it happens sometimes.
The way I look at it, I just raised my percentage chances tomorrow of making some good putts.

Q. Back side, it seemed like every time you would get in a little bit of a pickle, in that four to six range, you made a lot of them, par savers mostly.
RORY SABBATINI: It was funny out there today. I was hitting my lines that I was trying to on the putts. I was in some awkward positions today. The wind was swirling around, making it tough, especially on that final four or five-hole stretch there.
You know, other than that it was just so warm out there that the ball was going forever so it made it really hard to gauge the distances. It was definitely a mental battle out there today.

Q. What kind of battle will it be tomorrow?
RORY SABBATINI: Hopefully a good one. You know, I'm hoping I'll be victorious.

Q. You sounded scholarly.
RORY SABBATINI: I figure if I tie Tiger or beat him, chances are I'll win the golf tournament. That's the way I'm looking at it.

Q. Is it like a match play thing?
RORY SABBATINI: I think it's -- obviously I love match play. Match play has always been one of my favorite games to play. But the beauty about match play, it's not what people really think it is. You're not really playing against an opponent, you're playing against the golf course. If you start playing your opponent you start making mistakes. You always have to stick to your game plan. Obviously if you go and you blow out on a hole tomorrow, it's not the same as match play. You're not just losing one hole.
You know, tomorrow it's going to be a grind. It's going to be a situation of being patient out there. I think the biggest keys to tomorrow is going to be driving the ball in the fairway and getting on the greens. It's just getting harder and harder to access these pins now with the firmness of the greens, so you're having longer birdie putts, and the situation is you're going to have to be patient out there and let things happen. So that's going to be the keys to tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about the difficulty of the golf course? Is having the rough that long really necessary given Zach's problems on No. 9, which kind of typified the kind of problems guys have been having here all week?
RORY SABBATINI: It's not a matter of if you get in the rough, how bad your lie is going to be. It's a matter of when you get in the rough out there, because you're going to get errant golf shots, and the situation is if you do hit in the rough, it's going to be basically how good your course management is and your ability to kind of back down and say, okay, you know what, I'm in trouble, I've got to take my medicine here and just put it back into play and then go from there. So in a sense it's very much like U.S. Open golf.
You know, it's just -- it is, it's tough out there. Not even -- you can be a foot into the first or into the primary cut off the green, and you're going to have a battle. There's no way to really control the ball.

Q. As outspoken as you've been about playing with Tiger and everything, are you just saying what you feel, or are you trying to motivate yourself, or that's the way -- that's just how you feel?
RORY SABBATINI: That's just -- I'm saying what I think. I speak my mind, and that's the way it is.

Q. I mean, you've played with him some now. Is it hard not to think about him? Like you say, you have to play the golf course.
RORY SABBATINI: You know, I've played with Tiger twice now in final rounds in major competition, and I'm one and one against him. I've got a 50/50 chance tomorrow.

Q. What was the other one?
RORY SABBATINI: NCAAs, final round. I beat him by five.

Q. Where was that?
RORY SABBATINI: On his course, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Q. I thought he won that one.
RORY SABBATINI: He did, but I beat him in the final round. So if I beat him by five tomorrow, I'm loving my chances (laughter).

Q. Tiger said a lot of people think the way you do, they just don't verbalize it quite like you do.
RORY SABBATINI: I think the situation is if you go into a tough situation and mentally you're always looking at yourself as second, you're going to be second. If you go into a tough situation with the belief that you're there and -- you're there to compete and you can do it, then you will. So the situation is I think obviously Tiger has done a lot to deserve all the respect he has. But the situation is you can only let it go so far before you're just standing there watching him play instead of being out there competing.
I'm not a person that's going to sit there and watch; I want to be there competing.

Q. The fact that you've been one of the few who have been willing to speak your mind on that, do you think that puts any kind of target on you?
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, I'm sure it does. But hey, Tiger has got a target on him every week. Maybe I'm just getting a little taste of what it's like being No. 1.

Q. So for the record, if you could have played with anyone in the final group tomorrow, it would be --
RORY SABBATINI: It would be Tiger. Or Zach. Zach is a great guy to play golf with. As bad a day as he had today, we still had a good time out there. He's a quality person. I was honored to play with him today.

Q. On 4, your ball was short of the green and you putted it. What was your line there?
RORY SABBATINI: (Smiling) use your best judgment. I'm not even going in that direction (laughter).

Q. You?
RORY SABBATINI: Come on, go watch the replay on TV, you'll get a perfectly good view.

Q. When Tiger is obviously involved, the attention always ratchets up. Do you like that kind of attention? Do you like the spotlight on you in the final round and you've got Tiger Woods there playing with you?
RORY SABBATINI: The way I look at it is obviously Tiger is the two-time defending champion here, he's won five times here. Somebody has always got to knock him down, you know? There's always going to be that point where you get to where somebody beats you. So maybe tomorrow is my day. That's the way I'm going to look at it.

Q. Did you ever wish that some other guys were talking more like you maybe about him just to -- so you wouldn't be a lone wolf?
RORY SABBATINI: It wouldn't be as much fun with you guys in here then because you wouldn't be sitting there writing about me.

Q. Weather forecast is calling for possible bad weather. How do you feel about that?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, I think it's going to be a stormy day altogether.

Q. What do you mean by that?
RORY SABBATINI: Well, it's going to be Tiger, myself in the final pairing, and obviously an early start to try and beat the weather. But I'm sure there will be some rough times all the way around.

Q. Do you guys communicate very much while you're playing?
RORY SABBATINI: Who, me and Tiger?

Q. Uh-huh.
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, no, probably not. I'm sure there probably won't be very much talking at all going on tomorrow. But that's why we have Kenny Perry with us.

Q. Just to even it out?

Q. Can we get your card real quick?
RORY SABBATINI: No. 1, hit 2-iron in the left fairway bunker, hit an 8-iron into the tree, hit a sand wedge just short of the green, chipped it up to about four feet and missed it.
No. 2, driver, left center fairway, had like 211 to the hole, hit 5-iron to about 25 feet, two-putt.
No. 4, drove a 3-wood off the tee into the left rough, hit 8-iron just short of the green, putted it to about ten feet, missed that.
No. 5, hit 7-iron to about three feet, made that.
No. 9, hit driver left rough, hit 9-iron into the right rough just short of the green, chipped it on to the back fringe, chipped it to about three feet and made the putt for bogey.

Q. Presuming that you're going into tomorrow with no doubt that you're going to win, how much greater is the level of disappointment if you lose to Tiger versus someone else?
RORY SABBATINI: I'm not going to even think about that because I'm not going to let that play out at all. I'm going to go out there to do battle, and I'm going into it with full intention that I'm going to win. And if it doesn't, so be it. But you know what, I don't believe that in my mind it's going to happen.

Q. Let me ask it one other way. At Wachovia how disappointed were you versus any other event?
RORY SABBATINI: Wachovia I wasn't disappointed because even though I was in a good position, I had been struggling all week with my ball-striking, and I had been grinding it out. I had grinded my way into that position. It's just inevitable that you can only go so long before it catches up to you, and it just happened to catch up to me on the final day.

Q. Versus this week where you are playing much better?
RORY SABBATINI: Versus this week where I really feel confident with my ball-striking. Even though I didn't putt particularly well today, I hit a lot of good putts. So I'm feeling pretty good.

Q. From the time you first came out on TOUR and started playing a full schedule, as you get here and we've got next week, as well, how many majors does it feel like you've played this year, just based on how the coursed played, course setups?
RORY SABBATINI: Probably about seven or eight. You know, it's --

Q. More than when you first came out here?
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, definitely. The courses have gotten significantly longer, significantly more difficult. You know, it just seems like every week it becomes more and more demanding with driving and putting, and that's what majors have always been, how well you drive the ball, how well you control your putting.
You know, I think by the time we get to Southern Hills next week we're going to be relieved. It's going to seem like a normal TOUR event.

Q. Is that a good thing, bad thing, or does it matter?
RORY SABBATINI: I think it's definitely going to be a relief. I think --

Q. Not next week but the idea that you're having so many --
RORY SABBATINI: Oh, I don't know if I'd -- I think this week is exceptionally difficult. I think this is probably more like a U.S. Open than you could ever imagine. Zach and I were actually saying today if they ever had something go wrong with a U.S. Open course and needed a substitute, they could bring us here in a heartbeat. That's how tough this golf course is right now.
You know, I think the situation is they're trying to keep up with technology, but ultimately you've got to let guys play golf and be able to hit quality shots. Nobody wants to go to NASCAR just to watch guys wreck. They want to see someone win. Let the guys show their ability out there. If you hit it in the rough, give us the option of being able to create shots from there, as opposed to taking a sand wedge and chipping out. If they want that every week, then give us a five-year exemption for every tournament.

Q. Do you remember anything about the NCAAs besides the score?
RORY SABBATINI: Do I remember anything about it? Tiger shot 80, I shot 75. That's the best memory (laughter).
LAURA NEAL: Rory, thanks so much. Have a good night.

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